GADGETS


UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY: BEST CAMERAS 2104

Technology has moved so fast since I started this page that I haven’t been able to keep up with it. Suddenly, new cameras in all price ranges are being churned out every 5 minutes by every manufacturer. So I reckon people will either know enough to know what they want, or will do what everyone else does – sift through Amazon reviews. However, I did come across an article that not only reviews underwater cameras (mostly hugely expensive) but also contains plenty of illustrations of underwater photography and the different methods to get the perfect picture. Read the article HERE

TOUGH CAMERAS REVIEWED AUGUST 2012

The UK newspaper Sunday Times has just reviewed several cameras in the mid-range price bracket (£200 – £300) that are notable for being rugged. Each has a different selling point, and for simplicity I have just scanned the reviews rather than distilling them (ST: this is non-commercial use & intended as a compliment to your newspaper. Will that do?). You’ll be able to read the pages better if you click on them. I may try to improve the scans. But then again, I may forget all about it… 

OLYMPUS: IN ON THE SMALL WATERPROOF CAMERA ACT

Unsurprisingly, another new compact wp camera is about to be launched at the end of February 2012. I haven’t yet seen any reviews, and it would be wise to wait until Amazon has published some feedback before buying. It is the OLYMPUS TG-320 DIGITAL COMPACT CAMERA. It comes in startling blue or ‘good grief’ orangey-red. There’s a list of attributes as long as you might expect to find with a £1000 camera, most of which you will probably never need, even if you bother to find out about them. See the Trout & Salmon review below for a short review of a different version of this camera. For quick review purposes of this version, the main points are

  • 14mp 
  • 3.6x wide optical zoom
  • 2.7″ LCD screen.
  • Waterproof to 3m
  • Heat and cold resistant – freezeproof to -10°C
  • Shockproof to 1.5m
  • Image stabilisation, even underwater
  • Video shoots 720p HD footage “with 8 artistic filters to unleash your creative side” (advertiser’s meaning: ‘…and you’ll never use’)

The launch price on Amazon UK is £140, and you’ll find all the specs on the site. Conveniently there are several views of the camera that you can zoom into. It looks quite neat and simple, and viewed from the top it looks less bulky than the front view would suggest. No idea if it is better than the smaller ones reviewed below, but with all this things technology moves on, sometimes for the better, and the specs seem quite good for the price. What counts is how it will be good it is when you have got your flippers on

SMALL WATERPROOF CAMERA NEW YEAR PRICE CRASH

3 of the pocket waterproof cameras reviewed below are now (January 2012) below £80 on Amazon – they were previously ±£100. I’m not on commission, just keeping you up-to-date with market trends if you want a very simple inexpensive way to record your reef snorkelling or bay swimming.


KODAK ‘PLAYFULL’ WATERPROOF (3m) VIDEO CAMERA

If you can get past the somewhat annoying name, this may be the tiny, budget camera you need for reef snorkelling etc. It may even supplant the ‘Playsport’ (see below) I now have. It’s less than £100 on Amazon, but has yet to be reviewed. Rather than give it a rh rating now I’ll hold my fire and summarise the ad copy (shorn of its boasting) so you can see what it does and how it does it

  1. Records 720p HD video, WVGA 848×480 & 1 mb stills
  2. Waterproof up to 3 metres, dust-proof, drop-proof up to 1.5 metres
  3. Share Button allows easy upload to FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE, etc 
  4. 2″ display with LCD Anti-Glare Shield feature
  5. Near credit-card sized, only 12mm thick
  6. Built-in USB arm, automatic image transfer and charging
  7. Effects: High Saturation, Normal Colour, 70’s film, sepia or B&W
  8. On-camera editing allows trimming videos 
  9. Review and search mode for individual files or frames
  10. Built-in mike and speaker
  11. Image stabilization, face recognition
  12. 2 x Zoom
  13. Up to 10 hours recording time
  14. SD/SDHC card slot which accepts up to a 32GB SD/SDHC cards 
  15. Internal Li-Ion rechargeable battery (connect the built-in USB arm to computer, or attach mini-USB cable and adapter to a wall out                             

KODAK PLAYSPORT ZX3 & ZX5 UPDATE NOV 2011

The price of the new model is now firmly below the old one. It offers ‘full HD’ which I assume means better underwater pictures. Best to check current reviews on Amazon for these models to see what’s being said… ZX3 was winning when I last looked. Anyway, here is the mid-November comparison. Prices vary according to colour, as if you care about it… 

TROUT & SALMON NOV 2011: WATERPROOF CAMERAS REVIEW    You’ll find details of an early version of a cheap and cheerful Kodak underwater camera further down the page. This straightforward little camera is now into its third version at much the same price; in due course I will update my original post.

T&S has now reviewed 3 other waterproof cameras, all in a higher price bracket. They may be of interest for those planning a stay in 2011–12. For a fishing trip on a skiff a waterproof camera is not really a necessity. However, it is highly desirable if you are planning a scuba or snorkelling trip, for example with Kay Politano’s excellent ABACO ABOVE AND BELOW – see FOWL CAY REEF posts.

There’s always the Rolling Harbour beach to investigate at the Delphi Club, where there are areas of sea grass that shelter numerous small species. The Club has all the snorkelling equipment you will need. I haven’t yet used my little Kodak there, but I’ll get the chance in early 2012 – and who knows what’s to be found? In theory you (but not me – I don’t get very far out of my depth before turning turtle) could take a Club kayak out to deeper water, which could be very interesting… Anyway, here is the T&S review: © Trout & Salmon Magazine, reproduced without express permission  yet but in the hope that they will approve of the publicity, and not cancel my sub… 

AFTERTHOUGHT: if you arrived on this page via a G**gle search for Trout & Salmon Delphi Club / Abaco / Bonefishing, and all you got ‘was a lousy camera review’, bad luck – this is the unruly younger sibling of the main DCB website, to which the correct re-directions are CLICK ===>>> DELPHI CLUB ABACO

BUDGET GADGETS

The general idea is to give info about the sort of cheap ‘n’ cheerful gadget that could be fun to have at Delphi, won’t upset the bank manager, and won’t cause grief when you lose it. If you want to know about £5000 worth of zircon-impregnated transverse-refractable zoom lens, this is emphatically not the place. 

KODAK EASYSHARE SPORT C123 DIGITAL CAMERA  Various colours     (12MP, Waterproof) 2.4 inch LCD       Amazon £52.99 (free delivery)     STOP PRESS [AUG 2011 – same price]                                                      NOV 2011 £47.75 (free delivery)

  • Waterproof up to 10ft/3m
  • Allows simultaneous upload to YouTube, Facebook, email etc
  • 12 Megapixels digital camera with fixed zoom and large 2.3 inch bright LCD screen
  • Face Recognition feature
  • Fun scene, colour & underwater white balance modes
  • Continuous VGA video recording
  • Weight: 177 g
  • Batteries: 2 Lithium ion batteries required.
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The KODAK EASYSHARE SPORT  C123 has 12 Megapixels, fixed focus, 2.4” (6.1 cm) LCD, captures video, waterproof (3 m/10 ft) and dustproof.

UNDERWATER MODE: select Underwater Pictures or Underwater Videos and SPORT will automatically select the best focus & white balance to give true-to-life colors underwater, and will fire a flash if needed. Rinse the camera with fresh water if used in chemically treated or saltwater.

3-step sharing: Press the Share Button in review mode. Select FACEBOOK, YouTube, FLICKR, TWITTER, KODAK Gallery accounts, e-mail addresses you’ve added to your camera. Or connect your camera to your computer with the USB cable provided and your pictures and videos will be transferred to your computer and simultaneously uploaded to all tagged destinations.

Scene Modes – auto, portrait, sport, sunset, backlight, children, bright (includes beach and snow), fireworks and night portrait.

Custom settings: picture size, self-timer (2” delay, 10” delay, 2 picture timer – 10” and 18” delays – and burst), exposure compensation, ISO speed, long time exposure, white balance, exposure metering, sharpness, and color modes.

On-camera editing – Pictures can be cropped, rotated, and enhanced with Kodak Perfect Touch technology (if not previously applied automatically during capture) so they’re ready to share using the Share Button.

Video: SPORT can record continuous VGA video with audio up to 3 m (10 ft) underwater. You can edit video on-camera, trimming clips to focus in on the best bits, making a still photo from your video, or even creating a 9-up Action Print. To share your pictures and video online simply press the Share Button.

Sample Review“This is a great little camera. Its controls are very basic and easy to use and yes, it’s actually waterproof for this price! I was very impressed with the results. There is a little shutter lag and a small zoom capacity, but the screen is a good size and the resulting pictures are fab. If you are looking for a basic point and shoot with no gizmos this is for you, with the bonus that you can use it IN the pool! I didn’t expect much for this price but I was delighted”

Other comments: Cheap and cheerful; Idiot proof; Amazing and cheap; Awesome for the money; Funky

Kodak Playsport Zx3 Waterproof HD Pocket Video Camera                     rollingharbour rating **** 

Released Jan 2010 in a variety of colours, some garish. A small, light pocket waterproof video camera that is very simple to use, easy to hold, and works very well. It has a minimum of controls and settings, a reasonable zoom, and can take 5mp stills. It started out at £130 or so. I bought mine on Amazon for £85. The price has gone up a little since then, I notice – but still under £100. At that price you obviously won’t get Jacques Cousteau results, but I was very pleased with my videos. Significantly, Amazon gives it  an overall  4**** rating from 167 reviews, suggesting widespread satisfaction. Check this gadget out on Amazon, and have a look at some of the reviews there.

THE GOOD: small size and weight, simplicity, value. I ran it underwater for a 20 minute session and it was completely waterproof [NB there is an H2O setting you have to use before immersing it. I suspect some of the reviewers who complain of water problems had forgotten to do this…]

THE BAD: very little, really. I was surprised at the excellent quality of the video pictures in a gadget of this size (see Reef Snorkelling at Fowl Cay Posts for examples). That said, the stills setting produces results similar to an average mobile phone, i.e. not particularly impressive.

THE UGLY:  (Parrot fish feeding, taken using zoom)

ADVICE:  don’t waste time buying 2gb or 4gb SD cards when the price for an 8gb or even 16gb card  is now so low. I suggest buying a spare battery (I got one for £5 on eBay) to cover video use on a whole day’s snorkelling trip. And always wear the camera on the supplied neck-cord or suffer the depths of despair as it slowly sinks down after it has slipped out of your hand as the barracuda approaches…

STOP PRESS  A new version, the Kodak PlaySport Zx5 Waterproof Camera has come out in 2011. I haven’t looked at the details, except that it is around £130 on Amazon. Worth having a look to see if it’s worth the extra, maybe… 

STOP PRESS 2  This new version is down to approx. £100, depending on colour. There are now plenty of Amazon reviews for comparison with its previous incarnation. A quick glance suggests higher specs but not nearly so simple for the ungifted amateur. The main question must be, does it take better underwater movies? And oddly, the reviews for this updated version don’t seem quite as positive as those for the ZX3. 

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